Tell me: Are there many joys greater in New York City than ordering yourself, and then inhaling, a deli sandwiched stacked high with things? Meats, veggies, cheeses, and sauces savory, spicy, and sweet? I am seldom more happy than when visiting my local bodega and precisely detailing how I’ll take my sandwich.
If that is an experience you, too, enjoy, I will go so far as to suggest that Bunk—newly reopened on Driggs Avenue and South Second in Williamsburg, after a brief re-model—is your local shrine to that activity. The outstanding sandwich maker, imported to Brooklyn last year from Portland, Oregon, have just re-made their shop to optimize the fruits of their labor. Unfortunately for us, that means there are fewer spaces to sit down inside and eat. The kitchen and prep area are significantly larger, and there’s no longer a public restroom. But on the bright side, Bunk sandwich crafters (and chef Jake Adams, previously chef de cuisine at Momofuku Milk Bar) can more efficiently make mouthwatering sandwiches (and savory sides, and house-made sauces, and pickled veggies) than they could before in the space, which they had taken over in the form of an Italian restaurant.
We stopped by to check out their new configuration, shoot the breeze with Chef Adams and staff, and, yes, to eat. The menu is largely the same (meat-heavy, hearty sandwiches, both grilled and not, with salads, sides, fresh sodas (try their agua frescas made with rotating juices and infused herbs—mouth watering) coffee, and beer; but they’ve placed new emphasis on local collaborations. There is beef braised in Braven Brewing Company (out of Bushwick) Black Pale Ale, breads by Bien Cuit made exclusively for Bunk, and more potential partnerships in the works. Plus they’re still making outstanding house made peppers and sauces, which are perfect for eating in tandem with their Debris Fries—that’s beef and pork gravy and Bunk cheese poured all over the top of it. So, like poutine but with a strong Brooklyn touch.
There are also specials. That day there was a Brooklyn Style cheesesteak with onion, queso, and marinated hot peppers; loaded baked potato soup; and carne asada fries with chipotle salsa, crema, guacamole, and cilantro. And of course, the classic menu is in tact (and probably better than before, at least to us, because we missed it): The Pork Belly Cubano; Italian Cured Meats (perhaps the most classic deli sandwich on the menu, except its contents are plopped inside of a hollowed out roll, kind of like an open-faced sandwich placed inside a boat); the Oregon Albacore Tuna Melt; and the Bunk sloppy joe, which cashes in on the collaboration with Braven Brewery. It’s finished with mayo, pickles, cheddar, and crispy fried onions. It’s a beast of a sandwich, requiring effort to get one’s mouth around the whole thing, but worth it. (One description tossed around was that this was a “a wet beef sandwich,” which, admittedly, does not necessarily sound appetizing but, trust: you’ll want to find this out for yourself.)
And lest you shy away from all of this because you are a vegetarian and therefore feel you are being left out, you are wrong. There is a veggie sandwich made of marinated garbanzo beans, feta, arugula, and Bunk house made hot peppers. Our lovely vegetarian photographer assessed that this was the menu’s hidden star, and worth an order even if you do eat meat.
The ultimate goal of this remodel was to create the feel of the comfortable neighborhood sandwich shop, similar to the original location in Portland (there are now five in total, and this is the first outside of Oregon). Around here, after the fairly devastating loss of Graham Avenue Meats and Deli, and, more recently, Meat Hook Sandwich, this is more exciting than ever.
“At the end of the day, it’s a really awesome, good, sandwiches, made by an experienced chef who loves [them], and there are really good sides, too,” said one Bunk represenative, who sat there with us. And let me say, I don’t disagree with any of that.
All images by Jane Bruce